By: Gavincia Clarke
(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS) – Nominated member of the Nevis Island Assembly, Hon. Carlisle Powell, defended the rights of media personnel in the House of Assembly on Monday, April 19, 2013 while debating the 2013 Budget.
Addressing the President of the House, Mr. Farrel Smithen, Mr. Powell stated that it was noticeable to him that members of the media boycotted the budget address on Friday, April 26, 2013. He stated that when he inquired, he was told that the press boycotted to protest sanctions imposed by the President of the House not to take photographs of the gallery and parliamentarians while the debate was in progress.
He continued, ‘I understand from some reporters that they have been moved from the front rows to the back of the gallery. The media is unhappy that they have been banned from taking pictures. They mentioned that they now have to wait for the Press Secretary and NNC to provide them with pictures bearing in mind that photographers like to capture their own shots and select their own pictures for their stories’.
Mr. Powell stated that the Nevis Reformation Party opposed the sanctions that had been placed on the media. He stated that ‘the press censorship is wicked, it is unjust, it is unfortunate and it has no place in a free Nevis in this year of grace 2013 or at anytime’.
More importantly, he highlighted that these are new rules that fly in the face of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis. Mr. Powell read the fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution in Chapter 2, Section 3 and Subsection (b) which reads “the freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association”.
He also pointed the President, to Section 12 of the constitution, the section that deals with the Protection of Freedom of Expression. This section reads: ‘Except with his own consent, a person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his communication’.
The nominated Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) member of the Nevis Island Assembly, urged the President to revisit the crippling, draconian and unconstitutional rules as he termed them, and let freedom reign. ‘This is not communist North Korea. We are in Nevis’, he stated.
President of the House told Mr. Powell that he was in charge of the House. To this Mr. Powell stated that he respected his ruling but his ruling was not reflected in the laws.
This media house has learnt that this is the first time in 30 years that members of the media were forbidden to take pictures in the House of Assembly in Nevis.